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Top 5 Best Tools For Orientation

Even as the seasons change and warm weather disappears, everyone is itching to still be on the trails and hiking until snowfall once again. The gorgeous winter views of mountains, nature, and the cooler air brightening everyone’s moods is the perfect setting for anyone who loves to hike and ground themselves within nature in any season.

In our modern times, travelers, hikers, even kayaker's everywhere celebrate the technological advancements that allow us to enjoy the paths and all the experiences without the worry of getting lost or sometimes; the matter of being found! But in the real world we live in, even in today's modern world there is the risk of getting lost, even if on the way to the mall or other urban destinations, and that is why it is even more important to be aware of orientation on hikes.

"Orientation is the act of determining the relative position or location of where you are when you are in unfamiliar territory". It is crucial usually in general to be aware of your surroundings, further imperative in a more survivalist situation to utilize orientation especially when you are unsure of where you are or where you need to go, and far before taking the chances of wandering around aimlessly trying to figure it out.

Staying in your current location, using your orientation tools and modus operandi before making decisions on direction to step into can be the difference between getting home safe or not.

With the boom in those seeking the outdoors the last few years there are many free and low cost apps out there and features on our phones that allow us to do things like track our exact location, utilize GPS, use geo-locators, breadcrumb options, and even provide us with best suggested trails to embark on while telling us beforehand the exact difficulty level, Latitude & Longitude, altitude, weather, wildlife we could come across on these trails and more. Our Way-Points page dedicated to hiking and offroad trails as well as some kayaking opportunities is going to its own format offering the details needed.

In order to enjoy your hike to the fullest and take advantage of all of the amazing technology created for hikers, you’ll need to prepare ahead of time. Here we have provided a list to help you decide your preferred orientation technology.

The Classic Map

Nowadays, most younger generations have never even had to consider picking up a physical map to find their way. With all of the technologies we have today, it is rare to come upon someone using a paper map. While hiking though, you must consider the fact that phone service is not a guarantee when you are out trekking through the wilderness. Bringing a map along with you could be that one lifesaver, when your phone is out of service range and AT&T just isn’t cutting it to provide you with the

normally accessible map apps.


When you are using a map, a compass is key. You might not realize it but all of the map-based like apps you might use a compass that works in the background to get you around. In order to know which direction you are supposed to be going in, you must figure out what direction you are facing first - north, south, east or west.

A quality compass is the first tool that you should go to when you are lost or need to reorient yourself on

the trail or wherever you end up. They often have additional features or other advantages over others. Make sure you get one that is for your hemisphere as they will differ. There are many brands and options out there, we happen to personally use and support the Cammenga brand for several reasons.

If our military uses them, they offer all the reliability you want, they have models with the tritium [glow in the dark] which requires no external power sources, they are of great quality, and despite loaded with all sorts of

additional measuring features; they're very

simple to use.


Though phone service is not a guarantee when you are hiking, a lot of trails that are more popular such as Jackson Hole in Wyoming have enough connection so that utilizing apps for navigation can be a first choice when you need to orient yourself.

Some apps that are reliable for finding your way include trails between the U.S. and Canada. These apps and others offer features such as guides to exact trails, augmented reality that can help you find exactly where you are by using your surroundings, navigating tough to reach spots, and more.

Be sure to download the best hiking app for your trek before your next hike. Some options we've used or still do you could consider are listed below:

Nature’s Orientation

Nature is all around us and when you might be in survival mode, like many things your skills come forward in thought when called upon. Utilizing the nature around us is another tried and true way to navigate your hike or to orient yourself when you get lost.

Before all of the high tech apps and gadgets, select NAVI packages in vehicles, we had paper maps, and not just Grandpa. But even before that point, the Greeks, Romans, Vikings, travelers worldwide, and the pioneers that discovered our country had to use nature's directions on newer uncharted territories. Some of the thing's hikers can rely on to orient themselves when they are lost include using the stars, larger trees/mountains, the sun, the moon and more. The stars will allow you to follow things such as constellations and the North star will help you to remember what direction you are moving in or where you came from. Both the sun and the moon can direct you depending on the time of day and the phases of the moon.

There are ways to utilize both to figure out which direction you are facing, such as the fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. In addition, using things like larger trees, mountains or landmarks can assist you with knowing where you need to go to get back to civilization or move forward on your hike to a particular destination. Though many of these things take pre-hike learning and studying to utilize, being aware of them in a situation where you are lost is crucial to safety in those types of situations.

Trail Signs and Utilities

One more option to use when you need to orient yourself while out in nature is using the provided trail and signs along the trail you are hiking on. Most, if not all hiking locations, whether you are in the Midwest hiking through the Rockies, or east up in the Adirondacks, have signs along any trail you embark on.

Along the trails are these signs that will point you towards different trails by name as well as landmarks such as waterfalls, specific mountains, rock climbing areas, etc. Depending on where you want to end up or what you are planning to take on during your hike you can follow these trails. Another thing to consider is the park rangers or trail guides you may come across or have access to. Most parks and bigger hiking areas have easily accessible resources to help you when you are lost.

If you are in immediate danger or are genuinely lost, having things like fire or flares with you to attract the attention of these rangers and personnel can let these people know you need help. There are these personnel as well as other hikers on the trail that can always assist you with getting to where you need to be and helping in orienting yourself mid-hike. Making yourself and your hiking group aware of these resources before you leave is very important to keeping safe and preventing yourself from getting lost.

Have you ever been lost? Tell us about your experience(s) in the comments below..




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